Gearing up for Christmas

While I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving, the local stores yanked their Halloween decorations on November 1 and started putting up lights, Christmas trees, and wreaths.  Santa is still in storage, but workers are busy unpacking him.  Soon there will be a minature train in the mall with Santa waiting for children to sit on his lap and have a picture taken. 

I used to start shopping for Christmas in July.  I took my time picking out gifts and then wrapped them as I watched a movie from my collection of oldies-but-goodies.  When we simplified Christmas several years ago, I didn’t have to start so early.  It’s easy to pick one gift for the family (game, movie or food) and one special gift for each child – and focus on what Christmas is all about:  the birth of Jesus Christ who offers the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him.

But the buzz is going and the crowds are growing. 

Maybe it’s my recent research on human trafficking that has me thinking about alternatives to shopping in big chain stores where everything seems to come from China.  Frankly, we don’t know which things are made by slaves and which aren’t.  So what is a shopper to do? 

Why not shop at local ministry thrift stores?  Make it a family challenge.  Put a limit on the gift amount.  You would be amazed at what you can find for $5-10 dollars, and the money is going to good purposes.  Or suggest each member of the family give a gift to someone who needs it?  I love the Samaritan Purse and World Vision catalogs.  A gift can change a life.  Help your children pack one of the Samaritan Purse shoe boxes and put in a letter and picture. 

Skip the big chain stores and shop in the locally-owned businesses and craft fairs.  Not only is it fun, but it can be less expensive and the gifts will be unique.

Look for on-line ministries where victims of sex trafficking are being retrained as artisans.  That gift can open conversations throughout the year.

How about a few of these possibilities:

–          Cookie of the month club for a relative

–          Gift certificates to local restaurants

–          Detail Dad’s car

–          Spring cleaning or yard clean up for a grandparent

–          A day at the park or zoo for a grandchild

–          Tickets to a play in your hometown theater

Use one of the special gifts God gave you:  your imagination.  When you get right down to it, the best gift you can give those you love is TIME.  Things wear out and break.  Time spent with those you love build memories that last a lifetime.